Metrolink proposes new safety measures for passengers

Daily Sundial

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Metrolink, the Los Angeles commuter railroad, has requested funding to fence off portions of its routes in order to keep vehicles and pedestrians from coming onto railroad tracks.

The request came after a Metrolink train accident on Jan. 26, when Juan Manuel Alvarez’s vehicle collided with three trains, killing 11 passengers.

Denise Tyrrell, Metrolink spokesperson, said the request for funding to undertake the project has only recently been made, and factors such as how much funding will be needed, and when or if they will receive the funding, are unknown at this point.

“We feel pretty good about the request right now, and we hope for the best,” Tyrrell said.

The plan is to seal off the right-of-way access points along the railroad tracks instead of fencing off the entire track.

According to Tyrrell, Metrolink experienced a drop in the number of passengers riding the train the week after the accident in Glendale. But since that first week, passenger levels have returned to normal.

The attempt to keep foreign objects and pedestrians off the tracks is one in a series of moves planned by Metrolink in an effort to increase safety.

The company is also looking to improve the design of tables inside of its train cars, possibly re-designing them so they are more flexible.

“We’re in the process of a study, but we don’t have a design that’s been approved,” said Tyrrell.

She said right now, there is no estimation on how long it could take for a new design to be decided upon or implemented.

After the accident, Tyrrell said the push/pull engine configuration used by Metrolink came into question.

At the time of the Glendale accident, she said an engine was pushing the train from behind, which is a configuration that could leave engineers and passengers more vulnerable in the case of a train collision with an object lying on the tracks.

According to Steve Kulm, Federal Railroad Administration spokesperson, the FRA has yet to come to an official conclusion about the push/pull issue’s role in the Glendale accident.

He said the administration does not see any evidence to prove that push/pull trains decrease safety.

Metrolink has taken the precautionary measure of roping off 16 chairs in the mezzanine sections of its passenger trains, an area directly behind the train engineer.

“We feel the worst thing that could come of (roping off the section of seats) is that it turns out we overreacted and were too cautious,” Tyrrell said.